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Police intercept 14 sacks of ballot paper specimens in Kano state

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• 4.8m eligible to vote as poll assessment indicates inducement, security threats
• Disperse APC protesters over exclusion from polls in Rivers
• Deploy 15,544 officers for exercise

The Kano State Police command has intercepted 14 sacks of ballot paper specimens in the state.Parading the ballot paper specimens and the purveyors before journalists yesterday, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Haruna Abdullahi, said two persons were arrested on their way to Jigawa and investigation has since commenced.

Although, he confirmed that the ballot papers were samples and did not carry any identification with INEC.He said, ”The suspects were apprehended within the Kano metropolis in a vehicle. The ballot papers are not thumb printed and they are not real. They are just specimens used to enlighten voters.”He added that the suspects confessed that the ballot papers were on transit to Dutse, the Jigawa State capital, and were meant for distribution to rural areas for enlightenment purposes.He said the two suspects are under interrogation, while investigation is ongoing.

Also, a pre-election assessment conducted by foreign observers in Kano revealed buying of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and fear of electorate in the state.Publicity Secretary of Pan-African Women Project, Mphantle Keitseng, raised the alarm yesterday during a sensitisation training for local observers.

Mphantle pointed out that there were cases of massive vote buying and potential threat of intimidation, especially from security apparatuses, which may prevent eligible voters from exercising their franchise.Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says 4,870,304 registered voters will be eligible to cast their ballot in Kano.

Its Head of Public Education and Publicity in the state, Mohammad Garba Lawan, disclosed this at INEC office, while briefing journalists on the commission’s level of preparation for the polls.Besides, Lawan hinted that the commission has taken delivery of sensitive electoral materials from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) after which distribution to local government areas would commence.He disclosed that at the end of collation on Monday, it recorded 587,440 uncollected PVCs.

“INEC registered 5, 457,744 voters in Kano out of which 4,870,304 electorate will be eligible to vote. This is because, INEC has recorded 587,440 uncollected PVCs as at the end of the collection deadline on Monday,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the Rivers State Police Command yesterday used teargas to disperse All Progressives Congress (APC) members who stormed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s office in Port Harcourt to protest against the party’s exclusion from the general elections.Led by Nigeria’s Ambassador to The Netherlands and APC senatorial aspirant for Rivers South East district, Oji Ngofa, they asked INEC to explain why it did not obey a Court of Appeal order on stay of execution on a Federal High Court ruling that restrained it from including APC on the ballot for the polls in the state.

They insisted that INEC should relist the names of all the aspirants for the National Assembly, state Assembly and governorship elections in the ballot paper.The protesters, who carried placards with different inscriptions, blocked the major entrance of INEC office on Aba Road, demanding that the commission obey the order otherwise they would remain there until Saturday. Ngofa told the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Obo Effanga that they were in NEC’s office to demand the immediate implementation of a Court of Appeal order, which stayed the orders of federal high court.

Responding to the protest, Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Emma Okah, said the state government had uncovered plots by a faction of the APC to use the protest as an avenue to create a sense of insecurity in the state. Okah alleged that the purpose of the protest was to damage the INEC office and other facilities with a view to forcing the commission to postpone the elections in Rivers State.

“Our intelligence report further says that some security agencies in the state are aware of the plot although they feign ignorance and pretend not to know,” he said.However, the Police Command says the state would witness a radical departure from past elections, which were characterised by violence.

Commissioner of Police (CP), Usman Belel, disclosed that the command had robust inter-agency collaboration and synergy with stakeholders where it was unanimously agreed that the narrative must change in Rivers elections. Belel further disclosed that 15,544 officers have been deployed to various parts of the state for the polls, adding that personnel of other security agencies would complement the officers.


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Haruna Abdullahi
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